Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Rubashkin: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Before getting to the main point of this post, I want to make something clear. I'm not personally condemning Rubashkin for his financial shenanigans. After reading the account of the story in the fascinating book Kosher USA, it's hard not to be sympathetic. "Do not judge a man until you are in his place." It's very, very difficult to run a profitable kosher slaughter business, since the costs are so much higher and a large proportion of the meat cannot even be sold to the kosher market. Imagine inheriting a huge but failing family business, with cattle prices continuing to rise. There was undoubtedly enormous temptation to go to any lengths to stop the business from falling apart. And thus he engaged in unethical practices against other Jewish meat suppliers; he reversed the more compassionate (but less efficient) methods of animal processing that had been agreed upon; he hired illegal labor with inadequate conditions (resulting in five amputations along with dozens of other serious injuries); and he falsified documents in order to keep things afloat.

In addition, it's not hard to understand why Rubashkin wouldn't have seen all this as a big deal. The fact is that, as Rabbi Nisson Wolpin z"l told me over twenty years ago, the charedi community has long had relatively little regard for civil law. The reason is partly due to its isolationism (not identifying with the laws of the country as being "their" laws), and partly due to a cultural hangover from eras where the government really was the enemy. This unfortunate phenomenon is especially pronounced in chassidic communities, and even more so in the Rubashkin family, which has a history of breaking laws.

So, Rubashkin's upbringing and situation set the stage for his crimes. And he suffered plenty for them. The protests being uttered by myself and countless other people are not about targeting him for further recrimination. Rather, what we are protesting is the elevation of Rubashkin to hero status. He's done his time; let him now fade into anonymity, not be paraded as a celebrity. To quote Rav Hershel Schachter:
"It's scandalous - the man is a criminal. The OU warned him for years to straighten up his act and he didn't listen. He came out of prison and he was drunk on the videos. They're turning him into the next Lubavitcher rebbe! The trial was unfair and he didn't need to be in prison for so long, but he should have been quiet about it." 

Rubashkin is a person who did not care about the law. He, and his employees, said this to people explicitly. He did not care if other people suffered due to his business practices. And he did not place his bitachon in Hashem to assist with his business problems - instead, he signed false documents and broke the law. He should not be paraded as a source of inspiration.

According to Levi Shapiro, director of the Jewish Community Council in Stamford Hill, the message of Shalom Rubashkin in his forthcoming visit to London "is to be law-abiding business people, to learn from your mistakes, to be true contributors to society, and to make the most of second chances." Ha! If only! He's never, ever given over this message. Rubashkin never speaks about having done anything wrong or about the need to be law-abiding. His message is only about his heroic ability to trust in Hashem to help him with his plight - never about his mistakes and wrongdoings that got him there in the first place.

The good news is that many people recognize this. There is also an online petition to oppose his forthcoming celebrity tour of London. And the school in London which had been rented as a venue for one of his speeches has cancelled the booking.

Alas, however, there are many other people who do not recognize this. I'm not just talking about people who don't grasp the impropriety of having an unrepentant criminal give inspirational talks about bitachon and the miracles that he experienced as a result. I'm talking about people who genuinely do not seem to recognize that what he did was wrong.

Some of the comments to my previous posts and Facebook discussions were disturbing, even frightening. One anonymous commentator on my blog wrote as follows:
it's not dishonest if the customer is aware that the weights are off. in this case the bank was aware of the inflated receivables, and was happy to lend the money. this is actually a common practice, a lender wants to lend money when it is profitable to do so, and it seems secure, they don't care about the collateral. but they can't have the loans on their books without the collateral, so they cooperate with the client to inflate the value of the collateral for the sake of the "books". there are hundreds of banks that were doing this with home mortgages, which was a contributing factor to the recent mortgage crisis (circa 2008). prosecutions for this type of activity are not unheard of, but they are rare.
This person doesn't appreciate that lying is wrong, period, even if the bank would agree to it. Furthermore, the laws of providing collateral do not only exist for the benefit of the decision-makers in the banks - they exist to protect the shareholders and everyone associated with the bank, and the general public. Yes, it works fine as long as the money is coming in, but you can never be sure that it always will come in. Obeying the laws and being honest is important precisely to prevent the sort of financial crisis that occurred in 2008.

One Chabad rabbi, David Sterne, challenged me to demonstrate a single Torah wrongdoing that Rubashkin did. I didn't want to start getting into all the nitty-gritty of the offenses, so I decided to present something very simple and undeniable: the fact that he made false financial statements, and thereby contravened Midvar sheker tirchak. To my surprise, Rabbi Sterne replied that if it's not codified as law in the Shulchan Aruch, then contravening midvar sheker tirchak is not a problem! This sounds too shocking to believe, and he might deny it, so I took screenshots of the argument (click to enlarge):


How can a rabbi, involved in Jewish education, insist that lying (on a financial matter!) is not necessarily wrong?! (Yes, I am aware that on occasions one must resort to lying in order to achieve more important goals; Nosson Slifkin once wrote a book about it. This is not one of those cases.)

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has a problem in its disregard for civil law. The Rubashkin circus is both a manifestation of this and an encouragement of it. Everyone who cares about genuine Torah values, as well as the long-term situation of Jews living among non-Jews, should be protesting.

106 comments:

  1. Rav Natan,

    I agree with your analysis, both that we shouldn't run to criticize Rubashkin, but we certainly shouldn't treat him as a role model.

    However, reading through your discussion with Rabbi Sterne, I think that he has a valid point which you didn't address (but could have).
    There are many sugyot in Halachic sources about the parameters of "מדבר שקר תרחק" which you could have quoted, but didn't.

    Halacha is not determined by Psukim alone, but how the Psukim are understood in the Gmara, and later halachic sources.

    You could have made a much more powerful argument by pointing to the many sifim in Shulchan Aruch which Rubashkin violated, not only with regard to דבר שקר, but also חילול ה'

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    1. But honesty is a basic Torah value. Even if a particular situation is not codified as halacha, it doesn't mean that it's okay.

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    2. I found this--http://olamot.net/shiur/%D7%9E%D7%93%D7%91%D7%A8-%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%A8-%D7%AA%D7%A8%D7%97%D7%A7:

      אמנם בספר יראים [לרבי אליעזר ממיץ, מרבותינו הראשונים] כתב שאיסור 'מדבר שקר תרחק', נאמר רק בשקר שעלול להזיק לחברו "אבל שקר שאינו בא לידי רעה, לא הזהירה תורה עליו" [ולכן ביאר את דברי בית שמאי שיש לחשוש לאיסור שקר באמירת כלה נאה וחסודה, כי יש בו רעה לבריות שנראה כגונב דעת הבעל]. אמנם כבר כתב בפירוש תועפות ראם שגם לדעת היראים - בשקר שאינו גורם רעה לחברו, הגם שאינו אסור מהתורה, מכל מקום איסורו מדרבנן מהכתוב 'למדו לשונם שקר' [עי' במה שביאר את מחלוקת בית שמאי ובית הלל].

      So, to this opinion, there is a Torah issur in lying if the deception can lead to some sort of damage, and a Rabbinic issur for other falsehoods.

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    3. I agree that it is a basic Torah value, however us Orthodox Jews are a funny bunch, even if something is painfully obvious that it is right or wrong, we like it to be written in Shulchan Aruch.

      (Like the story about the Chosid, who replied to the question - "Why do you believe in G-d" with "It's an explicit halacha in RamBaM and none of the Nosei Keilim seem to disagree)

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    4. what about malchis shel chesed and dina dimlachusa dina?

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    5. Mr Sedley, your story is told about Rav YB Soloveitchik "ess iz a mefurashe Rambam, un der Raavad dingt zicg nisht".

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    6. Thanks אחד I realized after I sent the comment that it must have been a Brisker not a Chossid who made the comment, and the Rav's answer in Yiddish sounds much better (everything sounds better in Yiddish, even for those of us who don't understand a word of the Mama Loshen).

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  2. People always have some way of rationalizing why a rule or law does not apply to them or their friends or social circle. It's a phenomenon as old as humanity. It's also something that the Torah attempts to combat, as can be seen by the specific requirement for a king to carry a constant reminder of those laws. We also have the Parshiyot for those who have to bring a Korban Chatas - the Kohen Gadol, the Elders and the Nasi -- no one is immune!

    I would love to be able to say everyone does it, and they do, to some extent. However, it seems that Charedim are more prone, rather than less. Is it confirmation bias on my part? Or is it a result of their self-imposed isolation?

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    1. Charedim would reply that non-charedim are more prone to saying religious laws don't apply to them :)

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  3. What's the halachic status of דינא דמלכותא דינא? Is that דאורייתא or דרבנן?

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    1. And what about the חילול השם that's involved in getting caught transgressing the דינא דמלכותא?

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    2. למאי נפקא מינה יהיה אסור. ברם עין https://he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/דינא_דמלכותא_דינא

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  4. i love your ending inthe conversation. mY position is lying is against the torah, your's is it isnt

    Can you beleive this guy says: i don't know what he regrets

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  5. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Misphat 228:6
    It is forbidden to trick people in business or to give them a false impression (geneivas daas), for example if there is a flaw in his merchandise he must tell the buyer [even if he has lowered the price correspondingly - Perishah]. Even if the buyer is a non-Jew, one may not sell him meat of a neveilah based on the assumption that it is shechutah.

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  6. There are many more prohibitions and sources in the Artscroll Gemara Bava Kamma 113b note 16 under the heading "Prohibitions that apply to dishonest financial dealings with a non-Jew."

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  7. Reb Natan - I wouldn't rush to cite the petition - are you aware you are aligning yourself with people who do not care about the Torah, like Liberal Rabbis.

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    1. I bet if there was a petition on whether or not oxygen is important for human beings, you too would find yourself aligned with Liberal Rabbis and people who do not care about the Torah.

      I also read once that Esav believed in drinking water to stay alive, that rasha.

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    2. Considering Rubashkin's transgressions against Torah this would seem laughable.

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    3. Baal HaBoss,
      Were you being sarcastic with that comment or were you being a prick?

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    4. Rambam says to find truth from wherever it comes. If he can be heavily influenced by Aristotle, Rabbi Slifkin can’t put a link that’s linked to liberal rabbis?

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    5. KikesOnBikes, I think it is a Ta'ut Sofrom - Rambam was influenced by ARTSCROLL, not ARISTOTLE - Aristotle would be Kfira, whereas Artscroll was handed down on Sinai

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  8. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Natan Slifkin has decided not only to slander Rubashkin, but also to lie about my comments in this column. I suppose after our previous long FB discussion, I should not be surprised, because Slifkin made it amply clear that he is not interested or capable of a real halachic discussion, that would have required him to go into details and particulars about whatever Rubashkin might or might not have done wrong. He prefers to issue smears and slander without detail, and without halacha. So, I will just point out that I did not say what Slifkin claims I said, that "If it's not codified in the Shulhan Aruch, then contravening m'davar sheker tirhak" is not a problem." The reader who reads thru the comments that Slifkin posted will see the truth: I wrote that "If you cannot find a basis in the code of Jewish law, then there is no basis" and that was in reference to smearing and slandering Rubashkin. I then followed that up with, "If you want to issue a public smear and accusation, you better have what to back it up with." At no time did I write what Slifkin claims, that "If it's not in the Shulhan Aruch, it's not a problem." Any Jew with the title "Rabbi" in front of his name should know that it's not okay to level accusations without a halachic basis. At the very least, Slifkin should have gone to a Rav or a B"D to ascertain whether there was any basis for his claims. Sadly, Slifkin prefers to level smears and misquote rather than deal with the issues honestly.

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    1. Pathetic. Read your comments. Your were well quoted, unfortunately for you.

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    2. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Misphat 228:6 writes:
      "It is forbidden to trick people in business or to give them a false impression (geneivas daas), for example if there is a flaw in his merchandise he must tell the buyer [even if he has lowered the price correspondingly - Perishah]. Even if the buyer is a non-Jew, one may not sell him meat of a neveilah based on the assumption that it is shechutah."

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    3. Saddening that you have the gall to defend actions that anyone with a modicum of Torah knowledge instinctively knows is wrong.

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    4. I read both the blog post and the screenshots of your conversation. The paraphrasing in the blog post seems accurate, as far as it goes.

      It seems to me that you're trying to get Rubashkin off on a technicality. And not even successfully, as others have supplied sources in Shulchan Aruch.

      Why do Charedim/Chassidim ignore every lesson of the Neviim when deciding that the minutia of the law trump everything else? Do you people really not care that you are walking Chillulei Hashem?

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    5. For me in this situation there is only one quote: "He is not really the messiah...he's a very naughty boy!"

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    6. name a sector that doesn't ignore every lesson of the Neviim

      chareidim [some ] march to the end goals of the Neviim

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    7. So if you dance at a mixed chasunah, I am not allowed to smear you as it is not mentioned in the code of Jewish law.?

      Which rabbi will agree with you. except reform

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    8. David Sterne-- well, it is very much implied that if you're going to insist on having the Shulchan Aruch quoted (even though there are plenty of topics that SH"A doesn't discuss like lashon hara!!!) that you do not care about contravening a pasuk, common sense, and sechel. As one gadol once said: there are five volumes of Sh"A- Orach Chayim, Yoreh De'ah, Even Haezer, Choshen Mishpat, and PASHUT SECHEL. In case you don't know what I mean by pashut sechel, I mean pashut sechel. Think about it.

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  9. Glad that Rubashkin is bringing out the very best in his "following" here on the blog. Ironically the very chareidim that supposedly follow him - publish nary a word about him. It's mostly the chasidic groups that have made him a hero, it Litvish circles you don't hear a word about him. Get your facts straight. You celebrate him more than those who you complain about.....

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    1. Yated Ne'eman campaigning tirelessly for him, treating him as a tzadik gamur, just like chasidim claimed.
      Rabbi Pinchos Lipshitz (editor of Yated Ne'eman) said that he had a daily chavrusa with Rubashkin on -- of all things -- Chovos Halevavos Shaar Habitachon. The very sefer that, as Rabbi Slifkin pointed out, stresses that a baal bitachon pursues his livelihood in full accordance with halachah.

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  10. Agree with everything about Rubashkin, but we don't really get our values directly from the Torah. In fact this is precisely the reason: he wouldn't interpret this pasuk as applying to this situation, while you would, but the reason you both go different ways is because of values held prior, which obviously can't come from the same exact place, or you would have agreed.

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  11. Separate point but the comment quoted in his defense is totally inaccurate . The bank wasn't complicit in or aware of the fraud. He was obligated to pay his loan back from the receivables as they were paid to him per the contract. Instead he cashed those checks into other accounts unknown to the lender , spent the funds ( at times for personal use) and then defrauded the bank by listing the paid invoices as still being open and due.

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  12. > One Chabad rabbi, David Sterne, challenged me to demonstrate a single Torah wrongdoing that Rubashkin did

    Dina d'malchusa dina.

    Of course, I've read that some Lubavitchers read that literally. If there's no king, there no malchus so the rule doesn't apply.

    {Sigh}

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    1. Please tell me you're joking about some Lubavitchers and Dina Smalchut Dina.

      I've lost the ability to distinguish between sarcasm and actual outrageous opinions coming from the Charedi (or in this case Chabad) world

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    2. There was an excerpt from a speech posted on FailedMessiah years ago where one of the more prominent Meshichists in Israel said that.

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  13. Your discussion with Rav Sterne also raises another issue, that of psak style. It's interesting to note how, when it fits their agenda, chareidi rabbonim will quote the Shulchan Aruch chapter and verse. And when it doesn't? Well, there's a gemara, or something in "the seforim kedoshim" or some other source that trumps the SA.

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  14. A large number of Chabad Rabbis are minim. No-one knows for sure, but 50% is a conservative estimate. Before engaging David Sterne in conversation, you should first ask him to provide evidence that he is not a min, since if he is it is forbidden to engage with him.

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    1. I know Rabbi Sterne well for many years. He has always been quite vociferous against those in Chabad insisting that the Rebbe is "still alive", or Moshiach.
      But, having conversed with you in the past, you would probably still consider him a min anyway.

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  15. This discussion has a very "Matthew 23" vibe to it...

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  16. https://m.jpost.com/Blogs/Matters-of-Life-and-Religion/The-Facts-in-the-Rubashkin-Case-Speak-for-Themselves-520046

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  17. R Natan - according to this https://collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=7485 RSMR holds the Rebbe to be still alive. Does that make him a Kofer?

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    1. I've never heard that believing a dead man is still alive is a theological problem.

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    2. There is a dispute whether believing only a particular dead man is the messiah would be a theological problem. It is arguably enough of a limitation on the 12th of the Rambam's article of beliefs (that there will a mashiach) that would qualify on a theological problem. R/Dr David Berger lists sources for stringency.

      Rav Aharon Soloveitchik zt"l famously ruled that the belief is not a theological problem. Wrong, yes. (As he had to make a point of clarifying in a second letter.) But not heresy.

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  18. The serious problem with the mindset of chabadniks, is that even if a non-jew is awarded by the Queen for services to his/her country, as a non-jew they are still regarded as the lowest of the lowest.

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  19. I read the whole thread and comments and just once did I see dina dmalchusa dina. If the law of the law says clearly don't do such and such because you'll be in a lot of trouble and it's illegal, then you shouldn't do it. Not finding a makor in Halacha to justify something is absolute naarishkeit if you want to live in their country.

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  20. I take issue with one statement from the article. "The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has a problem in its disregard for civil law" It would be safer and more truthful to not generalize and say instead that "some in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community... I know of many in that community (characterized as Charedi) who are extremely scrupulous about not transgressing civil law. They don't even cheat on their taxes.
    Rav Sterne could also have been queried as to what he thinks the Rebbe zt'l would have had to say about Rubashkin's behavior.

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  21. ..."he hired illegal labor with inadequate conditions (resulting in five amputations along with dozens of other serious injuries)"....

    And what would Tanach/Talmud have to say about that? The man disgusts me. He is the epitome of the self-pitying Jew. His actions are the purest debasement of Judaism.

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  22. No anonymous comments will be posted. Use a pseudonym.

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  23. שו"ע חושן משפט סי' שמח הל' ב

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  24. So many self hating Jews coming out of the woodworks here. A fly is attracted to dung. Natan why is it that so many Jews who hate other Jews come to express themselves on this blog? Is it any indication of the blog author's tolerance of hate for fellow Jews?

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  25. The only thing more in poor taste than the Rubashkin smear campaign you've launched is insulting your readers' intelligence about it. Your entire post (before digressing into yet another of your endless personal battles) is disingenuous. "Don't blame Rubashkin, its not his fault he's a crooked Shyster, its his community's fault." That and your dark references to the "Hassidic communities" are border-line anti-semitic, and corroborate suspicions that your campaign is fueled primarily by anti-charedi bias. That, or perhaps jealousy that you never received the support he did.

    You can try all you want to make your campaign seem larger than it is. Or you can recognize that 7000 people speak a lot louder than one guy with a website. Personally, I wish you'd get off this dead-end train and go back to writing about rationalist issues. There was a good few edifying posts just prior to flying off onto this latest ill-advised misadventure.

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    1. Disagree. We need to stand up and say that fraud is not acceptable. The fact is that enough people stood up to have his talked cancelled at at least one location. If you worried about anti-semitism and bias, let's not invite it by condoning fraud.

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    2. No, no one needs to stand up and say fraud is not acceptable. And no one condones fraud. What does need to be said, at least on this blog, apparently, is that it is both childish and churlish (not to mention pointless) to sit there muttering insults at a man promoting Emunah.

      Just remember this: Legal issues are NEVER simple. On nearly every case, 5 or 6 Judges think "legal", and the others think "illegal." Opinions vary on what is and isn't permitted by law, just as much as they do in the political or philosophical realm. A judgment doesn't change that (especially in this case and this judge.) Keep that in mind, not just in this case, but in every case.

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    3. "No, no one needs to stand up and say fraud is not acceptable. And no one condones fraud."

      You would think that. But then his supporters go and do that. These lectures promote that way of thinking. Honoring a publicly unrepentant criminal promotes that way of thinking. I agree that he need not be pilloried and would support a tour where he reminded frum people how important it is not to cheat it business. Thank God, when it comes to murder and robbery, we have very good Middos; we need to do the same in these areas.

      "What does need to be said, at least on this blog, apparently, is that it is both childish and churlish (not to mention pointless) to sit there muttering insults at a man promoting Emunah"

      It wasn't pointless, as one of his lectures was cancelled. And as R Slifkin points out, the may have been promoting anti-emunah.

      "Just remember this: Legal issues are NEVER simple. On nearly every case, 5 or 6 Judges think "legal", and the others think "illegal." Opinions vary on what is and isn't permitted by law, just as much as they do in the political or philosophical realm. A judgment doesn't change that (especially in this case and this judge.) Keep that in mind, not just in this case, but in every case."

      It's possible, but unlikely. His case did also go through a 3 judge appellate panel (I understand that they don't review the case de novo). But even if he cooked the books and laundered money in a legal way, R Slifkin's point remains.

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  26. BTW, we not only convince kids to go OTD when we turn a dishonest and cruel person into a hero, those kids for whom enough is enough are most likely the more rachmanim, bayshanim and gomelei chasadim among the next generation.

    The whole thing is stupid and communally suicidal.

    But on the plus side... It can bring the ge'ulah. After all, kulo chayav is indeed a route to mashiach's earlier arrival.

    Just joking. The Semag (asei #74, hashavas aveidah, starting at "כבר דרשתי לגלות ירושלים אשר בספרד ולשאר גליות אדום") is clear that as long as we are fiscally corrupt, Hashem "can't" save us. The Creator would never choose to convince the nations that He doesn't care about honesty.

    But we really don't need a functional reason why defying our entire purpose as a nation as an individuals is a bad thing.

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  27. When I was getting mortgage for my 2-family home in New York, among the conditions was that I will be renting out one unit. I told the bank's closing attorney that I would use entire house and was not going to rent out. She told me, don't worry, it's just a formality, nobody would ever actually require this, but that's the rule in their book. So, I signed it, got mortgage, she got her fees, broker got his commissions, bank got from me large closing fees and then was getting interest payments for decades. Everybody were happy. Does it mean I committed bank fraud? By the way, one of the forms of unions actions is working by the rules.

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    1. Yeah, that's not what happened.

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    2. If you had taken some money you saved and given it to someone else to deposit a fake salary back to you to prove you had income, the bank would very much have cared.

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    3. Misrepresenting your intent in the way you describe is likely a violation of midevar sheqer tirchaq (lying), even va'aven (fraud), and depending on the text of the document, potentially shevu'as shav (a false oath).

      These are real issurim. We have to get out of the frumkeit mindset that deems these things less real or lwer priorirty than kashrus or tefillah, while Chazal considered bein adam lachaveiro (interpersonal mitzvos) more central.

      You asked about bank fraud. Of course it is. Just as an employee can defraud his employer, employees helping you do so is no less fraud. After all, the problem with bank fraud is that people are entrusting the safety of their money with the bank.

      (If a primarily non-Jewish corporate entity can have the din of a shomer sekhar [paid watchment], then a bank would qualify and lending you the money would be posheit yado bapiqadon [layig a hand on the entrusted item] and thus geneiva [theft].)

      This kind of "shtik", if done routinely, would bring down the economy. Look at 2008.

      The punishments on the books for bank fraud are so draconian because people need to be able to trust banks. Not to protect the bank as a corporate entity, nor to empower its employees. What you describe qualifies.

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    4. Counting potential income from non-existing rent for mortgage eligibility is not much different.

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    5. @Micha Theft and fraud is when you financially hurt someone, not when you actually enriched someone (in this case, the bank) but in the process did not follow "dead rules" that are on the books, but which the other side don't expect you to follow.

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    6. As I explained, you are hurting people. And the rules aren't dead. Which is why -- rules that protect banks from defaulting on loans or making third parties pay through schemes like CDSes -- hurt people, so they are indeed inforced. As I said, look at 2008.

      And even in your scenario, it's still dina demalkhusa.

      I know nothing about you, so I am not commenting on you in particular. Just about a sociological trend that produces many emails along similar lines to yours.

      There is a general trend to find kulos on things like financial ethics or how we treat non-Jews by the same people who are so careful on things like chalav yisrael, Rabbeinu Tam's end of Shabbos, or making sure they hear every kind of shevarim they know of on Rosh haShanah.

      I find comment chains on these posts irresistible because the difference in priorities between the Yahadus Chazal taught and frumkeit is a monomania of mine.

      As I said, I am not saying that you participate in this trend. Just that your email reminded me of the oh-too-many who do.

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    7. @Lazar: Exactly. He went to great lengths to hide what he was doing to cook the books. The banks do not expect you to pass money to third parties and then back to yourself in order to simulate income.

      Delete
    8. @Micha We are getting off topic, but since you brought it up, 2008 happened because of banks own greed: they were giving mortgages with very low downpayment and also were giving low introductory rates for variable rate loans knowing very well that when the rates will go up their customer will default.

      Delete
  28. "I agree with your analysis, both that we shouldn't run to criticize Rubashkin"
    Well, I disagree. We should.

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. Very disappointing that you link to a site called thepeoplesvoice.org. Look at the site - it's anti-Israel and full of conspiracy theories. Look at the books they are recommending: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Books.php

    Please be careful what you cite. It really hurts your arguments, which are normally very good and interesting.

    -- dan kern
    Efrat

    ReplyDelete
  31. An Arab woman was stoned to death by settlers with undeniable ideological links to Natan Slifkin's camp, but he obsesses about the mote in the eye of the Charedim . The man who stands at the apex of the Israeli right - the Prime Minister - is a soon to be indicted corrupt thug, a national disgrace, but an excessively credulous and insufficiently penitent butcher from the US is the material issue to Natan.

    Do you know what else is excessively credulous? There's no evidence to back up the assertion that fraud is disproportionately a Charedi problem, just anecdote. Natan has (to his credit) admitted that the community he identifies with has a sexual predation and cover up problem. Maybe they also have a fraud problem? Why should they be exempt from human nature?

    It is entirely irrational and unscientific to make a-priori assumptions about the relative societal distribution of crime. It may feel good, but it is pure confirmation bias and proves nothing.

    If Rationalist Judaism is to be anything other than the same few commentators circling over the same issues again and again and again, we need to see engagement with bigger issues that matter.

    Issues like the overwhelming preponderance of rational evidence showing that Judaism evolved from a mid - Bronze age Canaanite temple cult rather than from Sinai. I say that as an evolved monkey who davens in a Charedi shul three times a day, puts on my (thoroughly superstitious) tefillin, and finds a great deal of meaning in my Judaism.

    We need to deal with the scientific fact that gay people were born that way - is God so perverse he created them to sin? You may as well believe that the strata of rocks are a temptation to heresy set by the Almighty. We believe that women have as much human worth as men, whatever the mishna in Eduyos says. We don't believe in genocide of the Amalekites any more these days. That raped women ought not to marry their rapist. These are issues that ought to be contended with if Rationalist Judaism is to break out the echo chamber.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "An Arab woman was stoned to death by settlers with undeniable ideological links to Natan Slifkin's camp"

      I sincerely doubt that. When did Rabbi Slifkin ever justify violent attacks against Arabs? And the news reports say that the students are "anti-Zionist" (probably meaning that they want to replace the government of Israel with a Torah-centric theocracy). Rabbi Slifkin doesn't seem to harbor such views.

      --Yehudah P.

      Delete
    2. Sounds like maybe you should start a blog of your own...be'makom she'ein ish

      Delete
    3. Hominid,

      Is the issue the existence of a Rubashkin, or of a community that lionized him as a hero? In any community of significant size, there are bound to be criminals. But for the community to so lack their compass that they can overlook his wrongs... that's something we have to reverse.

      Similarly, the presence of sexual miscreants is inevitable. But is there a culture of coverups and excuses?

      And while there is much in the Religious Zionist media suddenly distrustful of the Shin Bet and its methodology, do you see anything questioning the wrongness of what they did? From a societal point of view, it's the communal response to the crime that is more problematic than the inevitable leavening of criminals in the population mix. It is the response that will increase the number of repeats rather than reduce them.

      Delete
    4. Yehuda P: I agree to a degree. There are shades of grey in associations. It's very important to note that Natan never called for violence against Palestinian civilians like the Kachniks do. However, he does support the settlements. And you cannot ignore or whitewash that many settlements - such as Rechelim - were literally stolen in 1991 from private Palestinian landowners of 'A Sawiyah under the barrels of IDF guns. That's a non-negotiable reality. That's what happened.

      Religious Zionism and the Misnachelim are the sea in which these vulnerable and troubled hilltop youth swim. These children are your children. They heard the millenarian rhetoric and saw the the endless discrimination against Arabs. They simply take it to its logical and ugly conclusion.

      Raymond: I'm an Orthodox Jew who happens to be quite sure that many of the axioms of Orthodoxy are false. I have many questions and few answers. The only thing I'm implacably sure about is the inherent value of all sentient humans - Arab or Jew, man or woman, gay or straight. If there's a Rabbi I respect, it is Rav Lichentenstein zl, but I am sure that he wouldn't respect me.

      Micha:

      1) Let's stop pretending there's a "we" here. The Charedim are less Natan's people than the people who fete "Bibi Melech Yisrael" are. I'm sensitive to the fact that I am engaging in whataboutery but I do feel that there is some value in the maxim regarding the stone-throwing of those who live in glass houses.

      It's hard to see Natan's intervention as really oozing in good faith concern for Charedi communal well-being.

      2) Do "charedim" lionise Rubashkin? Rubashkin hired Hasmo School Hall (modern Orthodox) for him to speak about his experiences. Some 200 other Jews - mainly MO but some Charedim - objected to this in a change.org petition set up by a Charedi Rabbi. The speech in Hendon was cancelled. The speech is going ahead in Stamford Hill, and will be predominantly attended by Lubavitchers. I'm interested to know how many of the dour Litvaks of Gateshead will give this man time or money.

      Clearly the lionisation is predominantly by a subset of charedim - Chabad - who see in this a repeat of previous releases from incarceration of the frierdiker Rebbe. ("didan natzach"). And yes, it is objectionable. It has become tribal and defensive. I'm not convinced that Natan's intervention from outside their tent has made it less so.

      3) You ask if there is there a culture of cover-up of sexual misconduct. And to an extent, the proper scientific answer is that more research is needed. But let's deal with this at the polemical, unscientific, anecdotal, confirmation bias, rhetorical way we humans have used to inform our flawed decision making for the past few millennia.

      Natan has blogged about the Rav Druckman cover up for Rav Motty Elon. Look at the first comment in that blog post, and you will see a pattern of repeated cover up emerging. Nissan Slomiansky MK was challenged long after it was known his behavior was sexually inappropriate. Chagit Moriah Gibor complained of "silence".

      The pattern I see emerging is this - any tribe which gets too smug on its own righteous Kool Aid will lose its sensitivity to its human frailties. There is no "-ism" which will cure human lust and greed.

      Delete
    5. Yes, chareidim lionize Rubashkin. Look at the collection of magazine and newspaper headlines back in http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2017/12/how-to-save-orthodox-judaism.html

      Or Shwekey's musical tribute https://youtu.be/oE4SlAGEMeg

      Or my local community kollel hosting him for a lecture (and this was part of a pretty broad lecture circuit): https://www.passaiccliftonkollel.org/shiurim/?preacher=54

      (Do you think the Passaic-Clifton Community Kollel or Hamodia are Lubavitch institutions?)

      I would somewhat edit your observed pattern: As long as we continue to misdefine Yahadus in terms of frumkeit rather than ehrlachkeit, any tribe which gets too smug will lose its sensitivity to its human frailties. The only Ism which will cure human lust and greed is one that acknowledges that addressing such frailties are the Torah's top priorities.

      Delete
    6. "As long as we continue to misdefine Yahadus in terms of frumkeit rather than ehrlachkeit, any tribe which gets too smug will lose its sensitivity to its human frailties."
      Pretty much sums it all up. The challenge for many Jews is that clearly one doe not need to be frum to be ehrlich.

      Delete
    7. Micha,
      Sadly, my camp, the religious zionists, fail to deal with the problem of the wayward racist violent extremists.

      The communal response is still problematic. It doesn't 'embrace' the hilltop yiuth, but it does quietly give them cover and it certainly doesn't boot them out.

      Delete
    8. a man who is heterosexual but yet his brain is wired in a way which causes him tremendous difficulty. He is wired to want only a particular woman and none else. That wouldn't necessarily be such a problem because a heterosexual man does tend to hook up with a woman of his choice but in this particular case it poses a problem because the woman whom he is wired to want is already taken. It's his neighbor's wife. He is stuck with a nature that leaves no room for his happiness. He tried to deal with his problem with many years of therapy but no therapy has been able to cure him of this.

      Delete
  32. It should come as no surprise that the most vehement and vocal opposition to chareidim, come from former self proclaimed chareidim. Seems for the most part that rationalism has turned into a code weapon for "fighting" chareidim with. While the chareidi community certainly has many serious issues and problems, it will never be fixed by people such as Natan, who would rather see harm happen to chareidim than the problems actually being solved. This blog has turned into a rant and slander site about chareidim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Natan, who would rather see harm happen to chareidim than the problems actually being solved." Wow. Talk about slander.

      Delete


    2. '"problems actually being solved." Wow. Talk about slander'

      No dear
      you're willing to have problems solved with the narrow direction of your self interest only


      Delete
    3. I agree with you, Rabbi Slifkin, that stating that you "would rather see harm happen to chareidim than the problems being solved" is slander, since there is no actual evidence to that (though, to be honest it would not come as a shock, based on the venom with which you criticize them). However, what about the commenter's next sentence, that "this blog has turned into a rant and slander site about chareidim"? I assume you don't have the gall to deny that, as it is hardly an arguable observation. as the gemara sometimes says, "pok chazi!"

      Delete
    4. "Slander" means false allegations, so I most certainly deny it. I criticize problems in the hopes that this will help them to be solved.

      Delete
    5. (Or at the very least, to show that not all Orthodox Jews go along with the madness.)

      Delete
    6. Slander?!
      You say that Rabbi Yaakiov Shapiro is a serial sexual predator based on a facebook post.

      Delete
    7. No, it was not based on a Facebook post.

      Delete
    8. What was it based on?

      Delete
    9. Here are your words:

      "For many years, I had heard rumors of this, but nothing concrete. Then, after my post about him, more detailed information came to light. Malky Wigder posted the following.."

      "This report is credible. It is a detailed, sober account, not written with any view of personal gain. Furthermore, it is entirely consistent with reports by others. Following is a public statement from Rav Yosef Blau: (Rabbi Blau gave someone permission to quote him on this statement and that person put it on Twitter)
      "I have known about Yaakov Shapiro for more than twenty years. He taught in a Yeshiva High School for girls and was let go for inappropriate behavior with students, though wasn’t enough specific information to pursue it further. Shapiro played the anti-Zionist card claiming that he was attacked because of his ideology. Years later when he was “helping” at-risk teenagers through Frumteens on the internet and he was written up in Jewish Action I complained to the OU and again the answer was that he was been criticized because of his extreme ideology. He had been the rabbi of an Aguda shul and was fired there as well."


      Delete
    10. @Richmond: A public accusation criminal activity by a person in their own name must be taken seriously per Chafetz Chaim. Also we have the following from his post.

      Following is a public statement from Rav Yosef Blau:

      "I have known about Yaakov Shapiro for more than twenty years. He taught in a Yeshiva High School for girls and was let go for inappropriate behavior with students, though wasn’t enough specific information to pursue it further. Shapiro played the anti-Zionist card claiming that he was attacked because of his ideology. Years later when he was “helping” at-risk teenagers through Frumteens on the internet and he was written up in Jewish Action I complained to the OU and again the answer was that he was been criticized because of his extreme ideology. He had been the rabbi of an Aguda shul and was fired there as well."

      Delete
    11. @David: Of course a public accusation by name should be taken seriously.
      And I included the Rabbi Blau quote in my comment(to be accurate this 'public statement' was a twitter post by someone who was given permission by Rabbi Blau to quote him).

      My issue with RDNS is, he writes-with certainty-that Rabbi Shapiro is a serial sexual predator, seemingly based only on internet postings.

      Delete
    12. I've spoken personally to a victim.

      Delete
  33. I don't understand your spar with David Sterne.

    Is it so hard to understand that just because someone may have transgressed an Issur you still can't smear him without a source in Halacha to do so?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it so hard to understand that a criminal who has not expressed public remorse should not be celebrated as a hero?

      Delete
    2. What does celebrating him as a hero have to do with a license to smear him?

      Delete
    3. Pointing out that he is a criminal is not a smear.

      Delete
    4. Was not "is".
      Secondly, once someone is punished we no longer consider them to be a sinner. Gemarah uses this concept.
      He did his time, it sickening to try to bury him yet another time.

      Delete
    5. >Gemarah uses this concept

      Where? Is remorse required?

      Delete
  34. https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/achdus-what-can-we-learn/

    ReplyDelete
  35. micha,etc.
    As if a major problem for the millennials, gen z, etc.

    Positing the useful strawman "frumkeit"once more!


    A golden goose that keeps laying eggs?

    ReplyDelete
  36. "Sadly, my camp, the religious zionists, fail to deal with the problem of the wayward racist violent extremists"




    We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hominid et.al
    Fifth columnist in all but name!


    There are Red Lines

    And while a someone may grow up from childhood a Tinok Shenishba regarding Shabbat and the like ,there is no such tolerable possibility regarding deviant acts


    We absolutely have to push them out totally, if Orthodox means anything at all
    Should we also embrace incest ?!


    NOW for those who wish to control their urges- which obviously is irrelevant and just a foil-

    THEN
    People self define themselves and if they do so, Yes,they are sinners
    The rubric who you umbrella under is your grave responsibility
    At best, they are akin to people who voluntarily moved BACK to Spain to be a Marrano
    Those who control their urges as they ought ,will merit
    Yeshaya 56:2-5
    (They will only if/then fall under, regarding to inability to have marriage and heterosexual relationship, the rubric of Oness)
    There have been several and/or possibly many, examples from the recent and bygone past ( e.g.the yishuv Hayashan’s most famous public activist of 95 years ago)
    They should marry their nation and give their ardor to public am yisroel affairs





    ReplyDelete
  38. Rav Scheinberg ztl was once asked a question that hinged upon the sugya of dina d'malchsa dina in Eretz Yisrael. His reply: What's the difference? Anyway it says מדבר שקר תרחק.

    ReplyDelete
  39. chazon ish kovetz igros vol 3. The shulchan oruch does not list all dinim and to a lesser extent nor does the tur.

    ReplyDelete

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